Nicky’s Gyros in Calumet City a Beacon for Great Food (Calumet City, IL) — When Chris and Gus Kotsiovos arrived in the United States, they were barely teenagers. Their first jobs were in the food business, but it was too early to know it would become their dream. When they entered their 20s, they decided to take a chance on themselves and open a business that became Nicky’s Gyros, 2050 Sibley Blvd, which serves high quality gyros, hot dogs and house made Italian beef.
A staple in Calumet City, the restaurant marked a momentous milestone celebrating its 35th anniversary in October.
“We serve 12,000 pounds of gyros a month and we appreciate all the support we have received throughout the years,” said Chris Kotsiovos, who runs the business with his son, Peter, and brother, Gus. “The people of Calumet City and Chicago’s South Side have been good to us and our employees. For this we are very grateful.”
Just like most restaurants, COVID affected their businesses greatly, especially in the beginning.
“We were closed for nine weeks because at that time they were only allowing restaurants that had a drive through or curbside structure to operate. COVID definitely hurt us,” said Jeannie Kotsiovos, Chris’ wife who helps with the business.
However while other restaurants were unable to sustain the economic weight of shutdowns and adversity, the family run business ramped up its take out orders, marketed on social media and sustained their loyal customers. They have weathered the storm of rising meat prices and continue to see their sales rise.
“We have employees who have been here for 20 to 25 years. We are not a business that has a lot of turnover. While we are a fast food restaurant, we pride ourselves in buying only quality meats and making everything fresh so we believe that is what keeps people coming back,” said Jeannie. “Because we are close to the expressway, we also have people stopping in from other states like Indiana, Texas, Michigan and Florida. Our customers will always be our first priority. ”
They have even had Chicago area local celebrities such as former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, former Chicago Bulls center Eddy Curry and legendary comedian Bernie Mac stop by.
The Kotsiovos believe being part of the community is more than simply running a business. They have handed out backpacks and supplies to elementary schools in the area along with this season donating 30 turkeys to families through the village of Calumet City. In addition, they hand out calendars to their customers and holiday pastries.
“We have a good relationship with our customers and the community. They are nice people and we want to give back,” added Chris.
It’s likely the reason why their customers also consider them family too. They have been invited to parties and even weddings by those same customers.
“We have some loyal people who eat at the restaurant; sometimes two or three times a day,” said Jeannie. “We are just thankful that they continued with us and showed us so much love.”
When they decided to start the restaurant, while they put their own personal stamp on the cuisine with freshly made beef daily, signature sauces and more, they kept the previous name. It has served them well and they look forward to serving the community for years to come.
“So many businesses close and we are still here,” said Chris. “We have been at the same spot and we are not only surviving but getting stronger. People say we have some of the best gyro sauce. We are back to being very busy.”
Nicky’s Gyros in Calumet City a Beacon for Great Food